Jobs for Life gears jobless for employment

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In 1995, after C.C. Mangum Company paved a parking lot for Pleasant Hill United Church of Christ in Raleigh, the late Chris Mangum, at the time an executive at the company, began meeting for lunch once a week with the Rev. Donald McCoy, pastor at the church.

During one lunch, Mangum told McCoy several trucks the company used to haul rock were parked in its own lot, costing it thousands of dollars a day, because it could not find good drivers.

McCoy replied that able-bodied men and women in his church and neighborhood also were idle because they could not find jobs.

That conversation, and a follow-up lunch with 12 business executives and 12 pastors, led to formation of Jobs for Life, a nonprofit that works with churches, nonprofits and companies to prepare people for work and keep their jobs.

Last year, 4,800 people took the eight-week class of 16 sessions offered by the Raleigh-based nonprofit through 500 churches and community nonprofits in 275 cities in nine countries.

While Jobs for Life teachers resume-writing, interview techniques and other practical skills, its main focus is on the more critical qualities of “identity,” “character” and “community” that job-seekers need to “address the devastating impacts of joblessness,” says David Spickard, the nonprofit’s president and CEO.

“You demonstrate character qualities,” he says. “Smile. Show up on time, ready for work. Don’t blame everybody else for your problems. You do whatever it takes to get the job done. And you’re connected to the community.”

Operating with an annual budget of $1.2 million, six full-time employees and two part-time employees, Jobs for Life now aims by 2020 to be working with 20,000 volunteer leaders at 5,000 churches and nonprofits, delivering training and matchmaking services for 50,000 individuals, Spickard says.

To drive that growth, Jobs for Life is building an open-source online platform that churches and nonprofits can use to get and customize the tools, training and resources they need, says Spickard, who joined Jobs for Life in 1999 as director of operations after working as a business analyst for American Management Systems, a consulting firm in Birmingham, Ala., that provided BellSouth with support for its billing systems.

Jobs for Life is piloting the online system, designed by The A Group in Brentwood, Tenn., near Nashville, and plans to launch it this month at 20 to 25 churches and nonprofits in 15 cities.

The nonprofit also has begun building broader local networks of churches and nonprofits in a handful of metro areas, starting with the Triangle and Nashville.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Spickard says, the Jobs for Life network in the Triangle consisted of only four partners.

Today, its Triangle network includes 32 churches and nonprofits that offer classes.

It is targeting Atlanta, Boston, Charleston, Charlotte and Tampa, and aims to add two of them by the end of the year.

Jobs for Life generates 20 percent of its budget from the sale of curriculum materials for job-seekers, and training materials for volunteers who teach the classes, which are held in churches and nonprofits such as homeless shelters, YMCAs, substance-abuse centers, ministries for youth, after-school tutoring programs, and programs that serve people getting out of prison.

The effort is working, Spickard says: Eighty percent of people who enroll in classes graduate, and 60 percent to 70 percent of graduates get jobs or continue their education.

“Getting a job is 95 percent who you know,” he says, citing challenges such as poor work history or attitude, a criminal record, or a lack of transportation, child care or employment role models. “It’s something entirely different to help them keep that job.”

That’s why we use the church. There’s a who-you-know network on every corner in America, sitting in churches and community nonprofits.”

Fundraising, Part 6: Religion focuses on fundamentals

By Todd Cohen

[This article was written for Blackbaud.]

For those religiously-affiliated charities that are increasing revenue, fundraising fundamentals continue to drive that increase, says Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham & Company, a fundraising firm in Plano, Tex., with just over 50 clients, including 30 based in the U.S.

Those fundamentals include effective integration of communications using multiple channels. Among them are direct mail, online communications and the use of telephone communications to support those appeals. Other key fundamentals include attention to major-donor development and a focus on the cause and the people affected by the work of the charity.

That focus on fundamentals powered a strong year in 2013 for his clients, some of which saw fundraising revenue grow 25 percent to 30 percent, Dunham says.

Consistency in message across communications channels is critical, he says.

If a donor receives an appeal by email or direct-mail, for example, the message on the nonprofit’s website and in its e-communications should be consistent with the message in those appeals.

Major-donor development also should be integrated into a nonprofit’s overall fundraising strategy, Dunham says.

Rather than treating them separately from other donors, he says, organizations should make sure major donors receive the same types of communications and messages that other donors receive, while ensuring those messages are customized in the communications aimed at major donors.

Equally important, and where appropriate, Dunham says, nonprofits should challenge donors with the potential to make significant gifts, while integrating those challenges with other fundraising communications.

Major donors should “experience the same communications as other donors, but at a much higher level and customized to their significant relationship with the charity,” Dunham says.

Direct-mail appeals continue to be more effective at generating contributions than online appeals, Dunham says.

“A truly effective direct-mail strategy will always outperform an online appeal strategy,” he says.

But when both strategies are integrated, a growing number of donors prefer to fulfill their gift online using their credit card.

“That’s why you want to make sure the donor experiences the same messaging” online that they get through direct mail, Dunham says.

For year-end appeals in 2013, he says, some of his clients used a “takeover” strategy for their websites, with the messaging that donors were receiving through direct mail and email taking over the organization’s websites and becoming the main message donors were finding online.

“It’s not a driver to income,” he says. “Such a strategy helps ensure that when a person comes to the charity’s website, there’s not confusion with the message but consistency through all channels.”

Dunham says his clients also used a phone strategy to set up year-end appeals by thanking donors for previous support, and then reinforcing year-end gifts with follow-up calls after gifts were made — all with consistent messages across all platforms.

And whatever the particular focus of a multi-channel appeal, religious nonprofits should focus on the “‘why’ of the organization, the cause, the people affected, not the ‘what’,” Dunham says.

“The fact that we’re doing a specific project is not what motivates the most significant support,” he says, “but ‘why’ we’re doing that project — to transform lives and the way such a project helps people.”

Next: Arts and culture groups focus on donors

The series:

Part 1: Growth tied to capacity, cultivation, communication.

Part 2: Healthcare groups invest in capacity.

Part 3: Higher education cultivates major gifts.

Part 4: Data key for independent schools.

Part 5: International affairs groups refine message.

Part 6: Religion focuses on fundamentals.

Part 7: Arts and culture groups focus on donors.

Part 8: United Way diversifies.

Part 9: Conservation groups connect with donors.

Part 10: Communication, planning key for human services.

Part 11: Peer-to-peer strategy fuels medical research.

Congregations seen as key to improving health

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When Delaware state health officials shipped flu vaccine to the main hospital in Wilmington after a flu epidemic hit low-income neighborhoods in the city, many elderly people and children in those neighborhoods had no way of getting to the hospital for free flu shots and ended up in its emergency room with the flu.

The next year, at the suggestion of a hospital nurse, her church used its vans to pick up neighborhood residents and bring them to the church for free flu shots, cutting emergency room visits in half.

That effort, says Bob Wineburg, a professor of social work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, underscores what he says is a huge untapped potential for religious congregations, government and nonprofits to work together and use existing resources to address local health and human service needs.

Wineburg, who studied community organizing at Syracuse University and has spent the past 30 years looking at community support that religious organizations provide, now is working to put those ideas into practice in Guilford County.

As part of that effort, Wineburg partnered with the Rev. Odell Cleveland, chief administrative officer at Mount Zion Baptist Church of Greensboro, and Vince Francisco, an associate professor of public health education at UNCG, to organize a “Faith Summit” in November at Mount Zion that focused on health care.

The event attracted 762 people from congregations, nonprofits, health-care providers and government, and offered nearly two-dozen workshops on topics such as men’s health, dental health, mental health, immigrant health, youth health and how to form a nonprofit charity as a vehicle for raising philanthropic dollars.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a coherent system of community supports” that teams government, religious congregation, nonprofits and health-care providers, says Wineburg, Jefferson Pilot Excellence Professor at UNCG. “That’s how the American system of community supports will work, where people are working together.”

Endorsing the effort to build faith-based partnerships to improve health in the community was Melissa Rogers, special assistant to the President and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership and former director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

“You are pioneering a model that we can all learn from,” she said in her keynote speech at the Faith Summit. “What you do in Greensboro will make a difference, not just in Greensboro. It will make a difference in the United States of America.”

Wineburg says the U.S. has 350,000 religious congregations with organized pools of volunteers and a lot of space that can be used to help educate community residents about staying healthy, and to house clinics and other programs to deliver preventive health care.

“We spend most of our health dollars on medicine, not on prevention,” he says.

The Faith Summit alone attracted representatives of 40 large churches in the region that together have 30,000 members.

“We want Mount Zion to be a portal and convenor for how to develop better relationships with the faith community for education for better community health,” says Wineburg, who helped Cleveland found the Welfare Reform Liaison Project in 1997.

That nonprofit, which promotes self-sufficiency for low-income families through employment training and the distribution of donated products, has had an aggregate impact on the community totaling $100 million, Wineburg says.

UNCG and Mount Zion now aim to raise awareness about the Faith Summit, he says, starting with a production of a 14-minute video featuring 1-minute clips from workshops at the Summit that he hopes will be posted on the UNCG and Mount Zion websites.

“Odell and I are in this for the long haul,” Wineburg says, “to change our community and to provide a model for other communities.”

Most U.S. giving tied to religion

Religion drives charitable giving by U.S. households, with religious groups getting most of the money, and religious motivation stimulating most of the giving, a new report says.

Seventy-three percent of household giving goes to religious groups, including 41 percent to congregations and 32 percent to religious charities, says Connected to Give: Faith Communities, a report from Jumpstart and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

In comparison, 27 percent goes to charities that are not identified as religious.

The report, conducted with GBA Strategies and based on a survey of 4,862 American households of various religious traditions, also finds that Americans with religious or spiritual orientations give at higher rates than those without those orientations.

Americans affiliated with different religious traditions give at similar rates to one another, and over half of Americans who give say their commitment to religion is a key motivation for their charitable giving.

“The implications are clear for all types of charitable organizations, whether or not they have religious ties,” Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm, professor of economic and philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, says in a statement. “They should pay attention to the religious orientations of their donors.”

Religious charities also should consider finding “ways to connect with non-religious donors who share an interest in their charitable purpose,” he says. “And organizations that think of themselves as non-sectarian may find that many of their donors have strong faith-based motivations to support their work.”

Who gives

Donors who give to congregations allocate 80 percent of their overall charitable dollars to groups with religious ties, including 48 percent to congregations and 32 percent to religious charities.

Among donors who make gifts for non-religious purposes, 69 percent of their charitable dollars support organizations with religious ties, including 39 percent for congregations and 30 percent for religious charities.

Non-religious charities

Although nearly three-fourths of charitable dollars given by households goes to religious groups, a larger number of Americans give to groups that are not identified as religious than to congregations or religious charities, the report says, with 53 percent giving to non-religious charities, and 44 percent each giving to congregations and to religious charities.

In 2012, 63 percent of all Americans gave to congregations or religious charities, with a median gift amount of $660, including a median gift of $375 to congregations and $150 to religious charities.

Among those giving to non-religious charities, the median gift was $250.

Implications

The report says non-religious charities might consider how to “diversify and segment their stakeholder base, explicitly making room for those with religious motivations alongside people who do not consider themselves religious.”

It also says that religious charities seeking support from non-religious donors might consider “benchmarking their outcomes,” compared to non-religious charities in the same field, rather than within religious communities.

Religious charities also might consider “how they communicate with people who are not traditionally or conventionally religious,” the report says.

It also says the U.S. nonprofit and philanthropic sector “would benefit from greater attention and sensitivity to the connections between religious identity and charitable giving, especially in professional education and training.”

Mixed giving

For most charitable purposes, donors give both to religious charities and non-religious charities rather than only to one type or the other, the report says.

Across all charitable purposes, 39 percent of Americans give both to religious and non-religious charities, while 5 percent give only to religious charities and 15 percent give only to non-religious charities.

Religious orientation

Americans with religious or spiritual orientations give at higher rates mainly because they give more to religious charities, the report says.

Among the 80 percent of Americans who formally identify with a religious tradition, 65 percent give to congregations or charities, compared to 56 percent of Americans who do not formally identify with a religion.

Americans affiliated with a religion give to congregations at three times the rate of those not affiliated with a religion.

Spirituality

Sixty percent of Americans think of themselves as religious and 18 percent think of themselves as spiritual but not religious, while 22 percent think of themselves as neither religious or spiritual, the report says.

Giving rates to congregations, religious charities and non-religious charities are highest among those who see themselves as religious, followed by those who see themselves as spiritual but not religious, and then those who see themselves as neither religious or spiritual.

Importance of religion

Forty-one percent of Americans say religion is very important to them, and 74 percent of them give to congregations or charities, while 25 percent say religion is somewhat important, and 60 percent of them give to congregations or charities.

Among Americans for whom religion is not important, 52 percent give.

Attendance at religious services

Among the 36 percent of Americans who attend religious services at least once a month, 79 percent give to congregations or charities, compared to 55 percent who give among those who attend religious services less frequently or not at all.

Different religious traditions

The report finds no significant differences overall in giving rates to congregations and charities among the give biggest religious groups the report analyzes — Black Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, Jews, Mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics — except that Jews give at lower rates to congregations.

And Americans across all different religious traditions give similarly across all charitable purposes, with a small number of exceptions where affiliates of certain religious traditions give at higher rates compared to those who are not affiliated.

Income level

The report finds no clear pattern of relationships between, on the one hand, religious identity and giving, and on the other, demographic categories such as income and age.

As household income rises, for example, the biggest increases in giving raters are to non-religious charities.

Lower-income Americans give to congregations, religious charities and non-religious charities at relatively consistent rates.

Giving rates to congregations and religious charities are similar among Americans with household incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 and those with household incomes of $100,000 or more.

Both those groups are more likely to give to congregations and religious charities than are Americans with household incomes below $50,000.

Those with household incomes above $100,000 are more likely to give to non-religious charities than those with lower household incomes.

Age and giving

Among people under age 40, higher incomes are associated with higher giving rates to congregations and non-religious charities, while giving rates to congregations increase with age among households with lower incomes, the report says.

Giving rates to religious charities are similar across age groups, although giving to congregations and non-religious charities increases with age.

Americans age 65 and older are more likely to give to congregations and non-religious charities than are those age 64 and younger.

Americans of all age groups, especially those age 65 and older, give at higher rates to congregations than to basic needs charities and “combined-purpose” religious charities — the two categories most popular among all Americans.

Age and religious affiliation 

Americans under age 64 who are affiliated with a religious tradition are less likely than those over 64 to give to congregations and religious charities, the report says.

And while non-affiliated Americans under 64 also are less likely than those over 64 to give to non-religious charities, they are more than twice as likely to give to congregations and religious charities.

Thirty-four percent of non-affiliated Americans under age 40 gave to a religious charity in 2012, compared with 15 percent of those age 65 and older.

Non-affiliated Americans under age 65 give to combined-purpose religious charities at more than twice the rate of those 65 and older.

Non-affiliated Americans age 65 and older give to basic-needs non-religious charities at higher rates than those under age 40 or age 40 to 64.

Religious motivation for giving

More than half of Americans who give say their commitment to religion is an important or very important motivation for their charitable giving, the report says.

Fifty-five percent of Americans who give say they are motivated to give by their commitment to their religious affiliation, 55 percent say they are motivated because they feel they should help others who have less, and 57 percent say they are motivated because they can make change and impact through their giving.

Far fewer are motivated to give as a result of expectations at work, because they were asked by a friend or associate, or because it is an expectation of their social network.

Todd Cohen

Giving grows overall and to religion

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article was written for Blackbaud.]

Overall charitable giving grew 2.3 percent for the three months ended in October 2013, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data from 3,828 charities that raised over $12 billion in the prior 12 months, The Blackbaud Index reports.

And among 3,097 charities that raised nearly $1.7 billion online in the prior 12 months, online giving grew 9.9 percent in the same three-month period, compared to the same period a year earlier.

“It’s a better year than we’ve had in a number of years,” says Chuck Longfield, chief scientist at Blackbaud and creator of the Index. “Giving is very dependent on the stock market, which is at an all-time high. With an improving economy, some of the uncertainty has been removed. People tend to give away more money when they feel wealthier, and the stock market helps with that.”

Revenue to faith-based groups grows overall and online

Overall fundraising revenue for 334 churches, synagogues and other faith-based organizations representing nearly $1.2 billion in annual revenue grew 3.5 percent in the three months ended in October 2013, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to a new Blackbaud Index that tracks giving to religion.

Online giving at 202 congregations and other faith-based groups that raised a total of over $110 million over 12 months grew 16.7 percent during the same period.

Faith-based giving grows but its share of overall giving dips

After flat years in 2011 and 2012, giving to religion has grown slightly in 2013, according to Giving USA. And while it receives the biggest share of giving of any charitable subsector, its share in 2012 fell to 32 percent from 33 percent in 2011.

“If faith-based giving doesn’t do well, that’s quite a drag on all philanthropy,” Longfield says.

Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company, a consultant to faith-based groups, says giving to his clients is up, with growth ranging from a few percentage points to 10 percent or more.

Who’s giving to religion?

While research consistently has shown a steady decline in attendance by younger people at religious services, especially for mainline denominations, that decline has had little impact on overall giving to religion, says Dunham, a member of the board of the Giving Institute, which publishes Giving USA.

“We’ve known for many years, and Giving USA has pointed out consistently, that there is a direct correlation of frequency in attendance at religious services and giving,” he says. Giving to religion fell during the recession mainly because, just as in any sector, people who give were hit by the economic downturn and had less to give.

And religion has struggled to rebound “because fewer people are attending religious services frequently and there is a smaller core of givers,” he says.

But with the rebound in the economy, that core group “continues to drive giving to religion because the core group who attend religious services frequently are giving,” he says. “Those are people who give the most.”

And the major source of giving to religion “continues to be the ‘classic 50-to-65-year-old’ who is at a stage in life with more money to give.”

Failure to communicate

Chris McLeod, a ministry strategist who advises churches on capital campaigns and planned giving for Horizons Stewardship Co., a national consulting firm in Cabot, Ark., says churches are losing market share of giving to faith-based groups overall.

“The failure of churches to effectively communicate the impact that their mission and outreach programs are having in the community has often left many of their members choosing to give directly to these community-based nonprofits,” she says. “So less of their charitable dollars are being channeled through the church.”

Churches, she says, “don’t know how to say thank you, they don’t know how to ask, and they don’t know how to communicate the impact that a member’s gift is having.”

Communications infrastructure

Churches in mainline denominations also tend to have “very weak communications infrastructure,” as well as young communications staff “who are more like newsletter producers, as opposed to communications strategists,” says McLeod, who also is president of Giving Matters, a fundraising consulting firm in Charlotte, N.C., that advises nonprofits and educational institutions.

In comparison, new “megachurches” and nondenominational independent churches “are investing more money and human resources in communications because they realize how critical it is,” she says. “If you look at giving at megachurches and independent churches, it’s significant, both in terms of giving by the church in the community, and inspiring their members to make significant gifts to the church.”

If a church in a mainline denomination supports a homeless shelter for an urban ministry, for example, but does not do a good job communicating that work to its members, McLeod says, their members in turn might give directly to the urban ministry rather than to the church.

Megachurches and nondenominational churches also are much more sophisticated than mainline churches in using digital communications and direct mail, she says, and at “saying thank you, communicating impact and asking,” and are particularly good at cultivating larger donors.

Donor cultivation

Mainline churches “don’t cultivate,” often because they lack the staff, and typically because “they have a lot of angst and discomfort around money,” McLeod says.

Research shows that in more than half of mainline churches, for example, the senior minister or CEO does not know how much church members give because “they feel it would unfairly impact the way they minister to members if they knew what they gave,” she says.

As a result, the people “who are accorded the most respect or deference in churches are the people who are wealthy,” whether or not they are donors, she says.

A key issue, she says, is that “how much people give to a church, not so much the dollar amount, but the percentage of giving, is a reflection of where they are on their spiritual journey. If people call themselves Christian, or Jewish, giving is integral to their spiritual journey.”

Sending the right message 

Dunham says houses of worship need to provide “cogent, clear teaching on the Biblical mandate around giving and why that’s important.”

While the Bible makes clear statements about debt and the handling of money, warning, for example, that “money will never provide the security you’re looking for,” he says, there still is a “tension between consumerism, which is primarily the cultural norm in America and drives our economy, and stewardship.”

So it is “incumbent on pastors and leaders to be speaking to the issue of how we view money and the role of money in our life as a faith-based person,” he says.

“Ultimately, people give out of a heart that’s moved to want to support something,” he says. “It’s not an insignificant issue. There has been a lack of teaching of this in the church.”

Church leaders also need to help people understand “what they’re investing in” when they give to the church, and that means “selling the vision and mission of that house of worship, why we exist,” and then “putting numbers to why that’s important.”

Shift to online giving

Religious congregations also need to recognize a shift that is “not driven by charitable institutions” but rather by “the consumer, the donors, to want to give more and more online,” Dunham says.

A study released this fall by Dunham+Company found, for example, that nearly one in two donors age 65 and older now give through charity websites, up from roughly one in three in 2010.

“As the trailing end of the Boomer generation moves to its best giving years, and also the leading edge of Generation X, more and more want to give via credit cards, and are very comfortable with online transactions,” Dunham says. “It’s providing a way for  congregations to give effectively online and not just by the plate being passed.”

So congregations need a “really good website that makes it very easy for that financial transaction that even could set up a recurring gift,” he says.

Value of direct mail

The study also found that direct mail appeals are over six times more likely than an online communication to drive an online gift, Dunham says.

“Offline communication becomes very critical to supporting donors, engaging donors, keeping them engaged,” he says, so congregations need to make sure their offline communications are integrated with their online communications, with their website in sync with those communications.

Relationships and significant giving

A growing number of religious organizations are investing more resources in planned giving and major giving, a trend that makes sense because the wealth that has grown the most, fueled by the booming stock market, is controlled by the wealthiest 3 percent of the population, Dunham says.

“Being able to tap that is critical,” he says.

Making a significant decision about a big gift ultimately is “very personal” and rooted in “relationship,” he says. “That is the apex of relationship fundraising, building a strong relationship with the donor so you can understand what their priorities are and so you can meet their priorities.”

Focus on donors

Rather than focusing on the vision of the organization, Dunham says, congregations and other faith-based groups should be “seeing the vision of the donor and seeing how you can help the donor fulfill their vision.”

McLeod agrees.

Churches “need to be communicating to their members about how their gifts and pledges are changing lives in the community,” she says. “They need to be talking about legacy giving or planned giving because churches are letting their members make their largest gift to colleges and universities because the church is not asking for it.”

Investing in communications

A key is for churches to invest in their communications infrastructure, McLeod says.

“Most people — senior pastors, lay leaders and church administrators — see communications as overhead, when it’s a pipeline to additional charitable revenue,” she says. “If you’re not communicating, you’re not connecting. People want to feel their gift matters.”

The “desire to make a difference is practically universal, regardless of faith tradition,” she says, “and when a church doesn’t communicate to a member that their gift makes a difference, they give to organizations that help them understand how their gift is making a difference.”

Cultivating donors

While churches may lack the resources to hire major gift officers, they still can invest in the critical work of cultivating donors, McLeod says.

“The invitation to give, and communicating that their gift makes a difference, is really at the heart of what makes people give more,” she says. “How are they invited to give, and how do they know their gift makes a difference?”

Older Baby Boomers and the even older Greatest Generation “are making legacy gifts, they’re just not making them to the church,” she says.

One reason churches may not be getting donations from young people is that they may not be equipped to accept gifts electronically, which is the way young people like to give, McLeod says.

“The most dangerous thing about that,” she says, “is that they don’t get into the habit of giving to the church.”

Importance of online giving

A study on online giving and the donor experience online that Dunham+Company is scheduled release in January finds that “generally everybody’s looking pretty bad,” Dunham says, with “Christian ministries ranked lower in the main indicators.”

The reason was a “fundamental lack of understanding of the importance of online giving,” he says.

The study finds, for example, that a donor who wants to make a gift often must make seven or eight clicks at a charity website to complete a gift transaction.

As part of the study, which looks at the actual behavior of 151 organizations, Dunham+Company made an online donation to every charity surveyed, and watched what they did.

One-third of the charities never even responded, he says.

“There’s a fundamental lack of understanding of best practices around the online giving experience,” he says. “Giving to religion, especially to houses of worship, is way behind, and Christian ministries lag as well. They don’t understand or implement best practices about how to motivate online support and how to make it easy for people to actually give online.”

Jewish ‘next gen’ major donors want impact

Despite research showing that new generations of Jews are less involved than previous generations in formal religious practice, Jewish “next gen” donors continue to fund Jewish organizations, and they identify religious and faith-based organization as the second most common area of their giving, a new report says.

Driving those donors in their giving are inherited values they often learn from their parents and grandparents, says the report, Next Gen Donors: The Future of Jewish Giving, from 21/61 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.

Jewish next gen donors seek a balance between honoring and respecting their family legacy, while looking for ways to make an impact, says the report, which draws on research from another report, Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy, that the two groups released in February, and on dozens of statements from Jewish next gen donors.

Jewish next gen donors say they are not as involved in their families’ giving as they would like to be, and want a more active role.

Many say they are frustrated by the lack of formal engagement in their own families, and that they look elsewhere for meaningful philanthropic engagement and experience.

Like most next gen donors, the report says, Jewish next gen donors are looking for new and innovative ways to maximize the impact of their giving, and are exploring more hands-on experiences and shifting to more peer-oriented giving.

“Many Jewish organizations and Jewish families are reevaluating how to engage the emerging generation of Jewish donors who will carry the legacy of Jewish family giving into the future,” Michael Moody, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, says in a statement.

Todd Cohen

National Christian Foundation low-key, growing fast

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — While keeping a low profile, the Raleigh affiliate of the Georgia-based National Christian Foundation has grown rapidly since it began operating in January 2005.

The affiliate has received a total of $92.9 million in contributions of cash, stock and other assets, including $34.9 million in 2012.

It also has facilitated grants totaling nearly $41.1 million, including over 2,600 grants totaling nearly $10.5 million in 2012.

A community foundation that works with individuals and groups to create and manage charitable funds that support a broad range of causes, the Raleigh office has one of the smallest staffs among the 28 affiliates of the national foundation, with only two people working full-time and one working part-time.

Yet it is the sixth-largest affiliate based on total cash and assets under management, says Alanna Linden, its president.

And it plans this year to add at least two staff members, she says.

Most donors to the affiliate are “mid-to-high-net-worth” individuals who typically are business owners, entrepreneurs and investment or financial professionals, “people with a situation where they are not just dealing with a cash salary,” Linden says. “They own things, businesses, investments.”

The biggest group of its donors are referred by the five members of its board, which is chaired by Cliff Benson III, president of the Palin Foundation, or by its existing donors, and the second biggest group are referred by nearly 40 professional advisers, accountants and lawyers who work with the foundation.

Donors referred by advisers account for 26 percent of the 326 funds it houses, including “inactive” funds set up to handle gifts in the future through bequests and estate plans.

Funds through referrals from advisers total roughly $10 million, or 45 percent of the affiliate’s current cash balance.

Like a typical community foundation, Linden says, the affiliate provides back-office support for donors, handling regulatory compliance for their funds, issuing receipts and quarterly statements to donors and, through a password-protected website, providing a “dashboard” that includes information about all their contributions and grants.

The local office, supported by a team of attorneys and other professionals who are among 100 employees working in the Georgia office, also provides advice and technical assistance on how to handle issues such as charitable giving, management of assets, and the sale of non-cash gifts such as real estate, businesses or restricted securities.

Unlike many community foundations, however, the affiliate typically works with donors who give away a big share of their funds each year rather than letting them accumulate value, Linden says.

“We’re not focused on being a foundation that money sits in,” she says. “We actually want it to get out into the community.”

The affiliate, which has the mission of enabling Christians to “give wisely,” supports churches and their outreach ministries, as well as a broad range of causes such as human services, education, poverty, international issues, the environment and emergency relief.

“To understand what somebody really cares about, look at their checkbook to see what they’re spending money on,” Linden says. “If people want to develop a passion for a cause, they should just start giving and see how that changes them.”